More than 1,600 Ugandan health workers infected with COVID-19

ELEGU, UGANDA - 2020/05/28: A health worker dressed in a protective suit as a preventive measure collects swab samples from a truck driver to be tested for coronavirus at the Elegu border point. He will have to wait days for the result. Uganda closed its borders in March to everyone except cargo planes and truck drivers. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

More than 1,600 Ugandan health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus since the country recorded its first case in March.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker dressed in a protective suit as a preventive measure collects swab samples from a truck driver to be tested for coronavirus at the Elegu border point. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“To date, we have registered 1,689 confirmed cases amongst health workers and 15 have succumbed to the disease. May their souls rest in eternal peace,” Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the Minister of State for Primary Health Care, said.

This means 451 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in about the last one month, representing a 36 percent increase.

Kaducu appealed to health workers to remain vigilant and follow all health guidelines relating to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in their professional and personal lives.

“I call upon all health workers to adhere to infection, prevention and control measures both in the health facility and when you go home. This will greatly reduce the rise in infections that we are currently experiencing among health workers,” Kaducu added.

Previous investigations by authorities revealed cases among health workers are believed to have emerged from the communities within which they live in, for both private and public health sector workers.

The Ugandan government recently laid out certain interventions to address the situation of health workers.

The measures include intensified risk communication on infection, prevention and control measures within hospital settings and ensuring availability of adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) attributed infection of health workers to a number of factors including inadequate access to PPE, exposure to patients who do not show signs of the disease and repurposing of health workers for COVID-19 response without adequate briefing.

The W.H.O. has stressed that African governments need to ensure health workers are given the necessary equipment, skills and information to protect themselves.